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Reconciling Cold Weather and a Warming Climate

Posted By Barry Ritholtz On March 2, 2008 @ 1:00 pm In Psychology,Science,Technical Analysis | Comments Disabled

Yesterday, I criticized those who made the claim that ““Twelve-month long drop in world temperatures wipes out a century of warming” in my usual understated and charming way.

I have to admit that the responses surprised me. First, I had no idea so many people rabidly disbelieve that 1) climate change is occurring and 2) we Humans are responsible for some of that. Truly eye opening to me.

There was a pretty amazing discussion in comments [1], ranging from brilliant to scientifically insightful to rhetoric of all manners, including some that had not yet achieved total enlightenment (so they got that going for them). I found the entire debate fascinating.

Sometime in the future, I will put the lawyer hat on to discuss evaluating witnesses. You will find that helpful when evaluating any speaker on any subject regardless of what media, politics, etc.

For now, some more weather change chart porn:

click for ginormo — and familiar looking — chart:

0302_sci_COLD_web [2]

Courtesy of NYT [2]

Here’s the ubiq-cerpt:™

“According to a host of climate experts, including some who question the extent and risks of global warming, it is mostly good old-fashioned weather, along with a cold kick from the tropical Pacific Ocean, which is in its La Niña phase for a few more months, a year after it was in the opposite warm El Niño pattern.

If anything else is afoot — like some cooling related to sunspot cycles or slow shifts in ocean and atmospheric patterns that can influence temperatures — an array of scientists who have staked out differing positions on the overall threat from global warming agree that there is no way to pinpoint whether such a new force is at work.

Many scientists also say that the cool spell in no way undermines the enormous body of evidence pointing to a warming world with disrupted weather patterns, less ice and rising seas should heat-trapping greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels and forests continue to accumulate in the air.

“The current downturn is not very unusual,” said Carl Mears, a scientist at Remote Sensing Systems, a private research group in Santa Rosa, Calif., that has been using satellite data to track global temperature and whose findings have been held out as reliable by a variety of climate experts. He pointed to similar drops in 1988, 1991-92, and 1998, but with a long-term warming trend clear nonetheless.

“Temperatures are very likely to recover after the La Niña event is over,” he said.

My point yesterday — which several commentors elected to ignore — was that confusing the short term trend with the longer term trend was simply wrong.

Using recent weather fluctuations to disprove climate change was like looking at the minute by minute S&P500 chart to determine long term markets trends . . .


Skeptics on Human Climate Impact Seize on Cold Spell [3]
NYT, March 2, 2008


Article printed from The Big Picture: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog

URL to article: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2008/03/reconciling-cold-weather-and-a-warming-climate/

URLs in this post:

[1] comments: http://bigpicture.typepad.com/comments/2008/03/global-warming.html#comments

[2] Image: http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2008/03/02/science/20080302_COLD_GRAPHIC.html

[3] Skeptics on Human Climate Impact Seize on Cold Spell: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/02/science/02cold.html

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